Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll is looking to join exclusive company in the NFL by winning back-to-back Super Bowls.
In a league where head coaches are often recognised as stern, brooding competitors, Carroll stands out as fiercely competitive while exuding positive energy.
Carroll is widely known as a “player’s coach,” and has been recognised for his unique methods in getting the most of his team.
Here are some examples of Carroll’s unique and creative coaching methods:
Carroll likes to keep things loose around the team.
The Seahawks are known for blaring music during practice and in the locker room to help keep players loose and have fun. It also acts as a test for players’ focus.
During Super Bowl Media Day, Patriots cornerback Brandon Browner said, “On our way to walking into meeting rooms in Seattle you could hear music blasting, pumping, but none of that is going on in New England.”
Carroll also likes to promote fun competition with basketball.
The Seahawks have a mini-basketball hoop at their training facility, and will often have shooting contests before or in the middle of meetings to allow players to loosen up and have fun. It, too, serves as a way to test players’ focus in getting back to work when the fun is over.
If staff meetings got heated, Carroll would break up the meeting to let people play “ring toss” to cool down before resuming work.
While coaching at USC, Carroll took his players to a beach volleyball tournament in Manhattan Beach before a big preseason scrimmage.
According to the Washington Post, Carroll wanted his players to understand the line between college parties and games, again emphasising the importance of focus.
Carroll tries to keep his team on their toes by giving them unexpected scrimmages.
According to Jim Trotter of MMQB, Carroll will have the first-string offence and defence scrimmage unexpectedly so they’re ready for moments when they’re unprepared.
He’s bought into modern health practices, both physical and mental.
Carroll adapted to the NFL’s rules against head-to-head contact by telling his team to tackle like rugby players, using their shoulders and not their heads. He shows them videos of rugby players tackling and has them practice without pads.
Carroll also makes yoga and meditation sessions a part of offseason workouts.
He allows his players to be themselves, letting their personalities shine through.
The Seahawks’ individual personalities are especially noticeable in Richard Sherman’s boisterous personality and Marshawn Lynch’s media-shy ways. Carroll responded to critics of Lynch’s by saying, “We still celebrate the uniqueness of our players. We celebrate the way that they see the world as they fit in with our football team.”
Despite the individual freedoms, Carroll frowns upon cursing and yelling, and tells his players to end every media interview with a “thank you.”
Seahawks linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr. said Carroll does an excellent job drawing a line between players being themselves and being respectful and acting in line.
Carroll firmly believes in everyone buying into the program and acting as one unit.
Former Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck told ESPN that in 2010, on the first day of meetings, Carroll asked every player to stand up and choose a new seat for a fresh perspective on the season. One player didn’t stand up, and according to Hasselbeck, “And he was gone a week later. Pete didn’t care about the seats. He just wants to know who’s with him.”
Carroll also makes players tap a sign that says “I’m in” before taking the field.
Carroll will watch popular YouTube videos in order to stay up to date with his players.
He uses the videos to understand lingo and joke references from his players, according to the New York Times.
When Carroll coached the Patriots, he would show them clips of TV broadcasts from games they won the previous week.
Conversely, he would never show clips from losses. According to ESPN, the message was to celebrate the positives and forget the negatives.
Carroll was inspired by legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden’s book, so Carroll wrote his own autobiography to better understand his own ethics, philosophies, and goals.
According to the Washington Post, one passage from Carroll’s book, “Win Forever,” reads, “I embarked on a process of discovering who I was, not only as a football coach, but more important, as a person.”
Carroll’s vision and philosophies are so clear he demanded full control over player and personnel decisions before signing with the Seahawks.
Carroll said of his autonomy with Seattle, “It’s what every coach needs, I think, to be at his best. The format and the structure that is generally accepted in the league is not that. We’ve set out to kind of show that this is the way organisations can be run.”
He’s very supportive of his assistant coaches, actively helping them find other jobs if there are opportunities.
Pat Kirwan for CBS said that even if Carroll hates losing assistants, he’ll still help them continue their career paths. He noted, “I asked him about losing a few assistants because of the Seahawks’ success, and he said he was trying to help two more assistants get coordinator jobs.”
Carroll is aggressive in making his assistants prove themselves.
According to Jim Trotter of MMQB, one of Carroll’s favourite interview questions to ask candidates is if they can describe their philosophies in 25 words or less.
He also spends significant time in the offseason examining staff development. He asks staff members to make a case for why they should reach the next “rung on the coaching ladder.”
He hired his son as a wide receivers coach.
Carroll said, “It’s really a treasure for me to have Nate on the staff. Just to watch him develop through the years that he’s been with us and see his approach.”
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